Which Electronic Documentation Method is Right for You?

Kim Mauch
Posted by Kim Mauch Sr. Product Manager Tuesday, August 2, 2011 - 18:19

Kim Mauch has over a decade of experience absorbing the ins-and-outs of effective mailing preparation and submission processes with a heavy emphasis on new USPS technologies including Intelligent Mail and electronic documentation.

In her current role as postal products specialist for Quadient, Kim educates customers on how to efficiently meet the latest USPS regulations.

She has presented at MailCom, National Postal Forum and numerous educational forums, including full-day channel training sessions, online webinars and high-profile customer training programs.

Customer Experience Update
Which Electronic Documentation Method is Right for You?

You’ve weighed the options, and decided that you’d like to start using electronic documentation (eDocs) in place of your current postal paperwork. There are three ways to submit your mailing electronically — how do you know which one is best for your workflow? The answer depends on your mail volume, number of mailings and more. Let’s look at the different types of eDocs and how they work.

Mail.dat®

Mail.dat is what most mailers think of when they hear “electronic documentation.” The mailing industry has been using Mail.dat files to communicate postal paperwork and mailing content since 1996 — it is well established as the standard. This makes Mail.dat the preferred option when using transportation or consolidation services and the most widely used form of eDocs in software packages. However, additional software is usually required, and storing the Mail.dat files can get confusing. USPS also requests that Mail.dat users go through an extensive testing process before submitting live mailings.

Mail.XML™

Ultimately Mail.XML contains all the information Mail.dat does, but the data is transmitted a different way. Rather than a set of complete files, Mail.XML is more like a series of short messages that together describe a mailing. Mail.XML is rather new, and not all software packages support it. There are no files to keep track of, but you still have to go through the same USPS testing process forPostalOne! submission. Once you’ve passed the test, Mail.XML is mostly likely the most streamlined way to submit mailing paperwork.

The Postal Wizard

Want to skip the testing process? You can use the Postal Wizard to enter postage statements directly into PostalOne! for some mailings. No extra software or files are required, but you must manually type in all the information from your postage statements. If you do several mailings each day, this can take awhile and it’s easier to make mistakes. There are several types of mailings that are not supported by the Postal Wizard, including Full-Service mailings over 10,000 pieces, or any mailing that requires a Qualification Report.

Which should I choose?

If you mail occasionally and don’t mind typing up your postage statements, the Postal Wizard may work for you. Mail.dat or Mail.XML will be a better choice for most regular mailers. Contact Satori Software if you’d like to learn more, or stay tuned to this blog for more in-depth analysis of Mail.dat and Mail.XML.